Skip the Learning Curve and Master the Lingo
Real estate terminology can sometimes involve some complex and contradictory phrasing. When you’re new to the real estate industry, your mind might already be swimming with all the information you’re meant to remember. We want to ease that pressure a bit by thoroughly explaining some of the different job titles you’ve been hearing throughout your real estate education.
Real estate agent. This describes anyone who has taken Pre-Licensing courses, passed their real estate exam, and earned a real estate license. Whether you retain a broker’s license or a sales professional's, you can be classified as a real estate agent. There are also a variety of titles that are used to reference real estate agents, such as, real estate salesperson, agent, sales agent, and salesperson.
REALTOR®. This designation comes from being a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. These agents and brokers pay a yearly membership and agree to adhere to the NAR's specific Code of Ethics. The REALTOR® classification only applies to these members.
Facilitator. This licensed real estate agent does not represent a buyer or seller. A facilitator is usually brought in to the real estate process when a homebuyer has chosen to represent themselves but they still need help with their purchase agreement.
Seller’s agent. This is someone with a real estate license (an agent, broker, or REALTOR®) that represents the buyer of the home.
Listing agent. This is an agent, broker, or REALTOR® that represents the seller of the home but they are typically not the selling agent of the home.
Real estate broker. This is someone who became a real estate agent, then went on to take extra education in order to pass the broker’s exam and is now a licensed broker. A broker can either work independently or hire agents to work for them. However, being a broker does not necessarily mean they have been in their career much longer than an agent has since brokers are sometimes only required to have two years of recent experience as a salesperson.
Real estate associate broker. Someone with this title has gone through the extra effort to take additional education courses, pass the broker’s exam and earn a broker’s license. However, they are not currently practicing as a broker and still choose to work under a real estate broker. This choice could be because they do not want the responsibility of heading up a firm, or there is already a broker in their firm, or for a number of reasons, they will take on the role of a practicing agent.
To muddle the terminology even more, these terms and explanations are not universally accepted. In some areas, “broker” might actually mean “agent” because, in states like Colorado and Washington, there isn't a salesperson license. In order to initially get your real estate license in those states, you obtain your broker's license. However, in most states, the process typically follows this path: you start out getting your sales license, and after you have been a sales agent for a few years, you qualify to take broker Pre-Licensing courses, take the broker exam and then become a broker. Many agents may also choose to remain an agent and not continue their educational journey to become a broker.
When you start working with your clients, remember to explain these minute complexities of each real estate role. Most of the people you work with will not already know how a real estate broker differs from a REALTOR®, who differs from a real estate agent. Keep this cheat sheet handy when describing the specific positions and be sure to walk them through how you fit into the process. Your clients will be grateful for the clarification rather than having to endure another agent talking industry lingo at them.